• Published 12th Oct 2015
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A Pony Displaced: Another Path - NoLongerSober



Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. There once was a stallion who faced Nightmare Moon and was sealed away with her. Now he returns in the modern age, hoping to find a new path.

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Chapter 17

“You have a lot of charges, you know,” Cobalt called out to the unicorn before she even pushed the door to the small jailhouse open, morning sun silhouetting the mare. “And not just for the assault that started the brawl. The saloon is going to end up sueing you for the food, drinks, and furniture damaged. Thunder Cracker will probably sue you for the medical bill and for the time he’ll have to take off of work…I hope you didn’t plan on leaving any time soon, no telling how long it’ll take to work all these bits off.”

Barrier snorted in amusement. “It won’t take anything to work it off. I’ll pay the saloon for the damages, but Thunder Cracker doesn’t have any case to sue me. He started the fight when he grabbed my tail and tried to prevent me from leaving. I defended myself and everything after that was circumstance.”

“You almost crippled Thunder Cracker. Self-defense will only get you so far,” Cobalt stated, her tone not quite argumentative.

“Self-defense will get me far enough. Thunder Cracker won’t even take it to court if I tell the ponies around town that he got hurt after trying to physically stop a mare from leaving.”

“That’d just get you a slander and defamation charge.”

Barrier snorted once more, a slight smile. “Let’s cut the crap, bat, are you here to charge me? I can’t imagine you’re able to hold me very long without doing so. Besides that, if you really want to make a big deal out of this, Princess Luna owes me a favor and I’d wager she could make this all go away.” After what she did to me that night at the castle, she owes me several favors…

“Ponies like you sicken me.” Cobalt Lancer frowned in irritation. “Thinking you can avoid justice by calling in a favour to someone powerful. You’re pathetic.”

A thin smile split Barrier’s muzzle. “Well, I guess we’re even then. Gods know I’m not terribly fond of you bats.”

“We’re not bats, dammit!” Cobalt half-growled out. “What in Tartarus is your problem with thestrals?”

“Not much aside from the part where your race betrayed Equestria and slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of innocents.” Barrier spoke with well-masked disgust, voice coming off as almost cheery.

“That was over a thousand years ago!” Cobalt shot back, “And the thestrals were hunted to near extinction by a mad-stallion before Celestia herself intervened! He exterminated almost ninety-percent of the entire thestral population! Captain Sentry was a genocidal monster!”

Outwardly, Barrier’s expression became flat and stoic; inwardly, she winced. Flash would never go that far.

“I suppose we shouldn’t worry about the thestrals turning traitor again then, do we?”

Cobalt stalked towards the bars, her eyes hard. “Mares, stallions, foals. None of it mattered to him. In his eyes, we were all guilty. To him, our entire species needed to die.”

Flash, what in blazes happened to you? Barrier maintained her plain, blank expression. “I don’t recall that in any of the historical texts I read since my return.”

It was Cobalt’s turn to snort. “Of course not. That era had Grimhilde LeGrande, Nightmare Moon and King Sombra. Flash Sentry and what happened to the thestrals wasn’t even an afterthought.” Cobalt Lancer huffed. “Some history books portray him as a bloody hero! Did the traitors deserve to die? I’d say so. Did the countless ones that had nothing to do with the betrayal have to die? Tartarus no!” She turned to glare at a brick wall, doing everything she could to keep from punching through it.

“You seem to be well-versed with history,” Barrier noted, trying to shift the subject; while she didn’t approve of what Flash had apparently done, the stallion was still her best friend. It wasn’t like she could really judge the stallion anyways; she hadn’t been there.

“Just military history,” Cobalt replied with a tired sigh. “I want to join the guard. I want to inspire young thestrals to see that we don’t have to be ponies...” Cobalt let another sigh escape her, seemingly far more relaxed. “I want them to see that we don’t have to be ponies that nopony cares about. I want them to see that we can be great heroes. I want us to be known all across Equestria. But that’s not an easy thing to do with history being written like it is. Nopony sees us as the victims of a maniac, everypony just sees the traitors.”

“If you want to be a hero, you’re going into the wrong profession.” Barrier’s neutral facade broke with a hollow laugh escaping her throat. “None of the guards were heroes back during the Griffin Wars or the Nightmare Moon incident. Monsters might be a more fitting term.”

“What the hay do you know about being a guard? You didn’t even know about Captain Sentry. By the looks of things so far, you’re just a washed up drunk.”

“I know more about being a guard of that era than anypony alive,” Barrier spoke with surprising intensity “save the princesses mayhaps.” Barrier sighed and fell back onto the bench, her shoulders suddenly feeling much heavier. “And I know more about Flash Sentry than anypony living or deceased. For example, I know he was wedded in the spring to Sergeant Fleetfeather. I also know he had six foals, his youngest a-being a filly named Wind Whistler. I also know both his wife and youngest daughter perished when King Sombra took over the Crystal Empire. He preferred asparagus to celery and absolutely detested carrots.” The mare half-sobbed, half-chuckled. “I never knew such a darkness had taken hold of him. I should have been there for him…” You couldn’t even help your bestfriend.

Cobalt didn’t reply immediately, instead mentally noting the slight tears working their way down the mare’s cheeks.

“I think I’m gonna have the doctor check you for a head injury…”

“Whatever,” Barrier rolled over, turning her back to the thestral. “Just leave me alone, Cobalt… and if it’s not too much, could thou bringest me some stationery? I need to scrawl the princess a letter. I wonder what other atrocities I missed out on in mine absence.” How else I failed.

“Uh…” Cobalt was at a slight loss actually from being addressed by name. “Well, you’re legally allowed one letter. I’ll see what I can scrounge up.”

The unicorn mare didn’t respond, instead just holding her pillow closer.

***

Barrier swallowed heavily, eyes resting on the gravestone in front of him. “Why didst thou do it, Flash?” The stallion addressed the grave, hoof reaching out to trail over the letters. “I suppose I’ll never know, will I?” Barrier fell backwards onto the grass, glancing up at the foggy night sky. “Everypony got to move on, yet I remain. The last of the Clippers.”

“Remember, Magic Barrier, no one is truly gone as long as they are remembered.”

Barrier shot upright, whipping around to face a ghostly apparition of two pink-maned ponies with matching powder-blue coats and a brilliant orange pegasus smiling at him, flanked by five familiar cadets. Anything the stallion had intended to say died in his throat.

“I am certain,” the seven ponies and filly all saluted, the filly tumbling forward as she unbalanced herself in her eagerness, “that they are thankful that you honor their memory.”

“Princess Luna,” Barrier finally bowed with a choked breath, the apparitions fading.

“Rise, Barrier. We believe our relationship is a bit beyond such formalities at this point.” Luna gripped the stallion’s shoulder, hefting him upright.

“Er...” Barrier blushed slightly. “Of course.” After a moment of awkward silence, Barrier turned to the gravestone once again. “I’ll never know what drove him to do what he did…”

“'Twas several things according to our sister,” Luna began, drawing the unicorn’s attention immediately.

“Was I one of them?”

Luna didn’t reply immediately, drawing a sigh from the smaller pony. “Thou wert apparently a factor in his decision, but not the only one. We spoke with Our sister shortly after Our return regarding the thestrals, and she explained Captain Sentry’s decisions. In addition to thee ‘perishing,’ thy second pegasus had left the guard within the two weeks that followed. She was no longer there to consult with him, and she died within a year.”

Ember. Barrier felt a pang of sadness in his chest; he hadn’t thought of her since his return. Of everypony he’d lost, she was the worst…and he’d forgotten her.

“Did the princess have any specifics on how she passed?” Barrier knew better than to think she was bested in a fair fight; the mare was hooves down the best combatant in the unit.

“We do not know the specifics, only that she was discharged from the guard shortly after Our banishment and died due to medical complications.” Luna let the silence reign for a moment before continuing. “That aside, from what we understand, after thy disappearance, Captain Sentry…lost himself unto a rage. According to Our sister, he greatly regretted his decision in the years that followed.”

“He’d be appalled if he knew that it was completely left out of history.” Barrier half-smiled.

“Not completely. There are some that damn him as a villain on par with King Sombra. Though not as common, they do exist.”

Barrier didn’t reply, instead reaching out to drag his hoof across the grave once again.

“So,” Luna tried to shift the conversation to something lighter. “How is thy vacation thus far?”

“Well, I’m in jail, so there’s that.”

“Again?” Amusement danced in Luna’s eyes. “What for this time? Are there griffins a-living in Appleloosa?”

“…no,” Barrier hesitated slightly, “'Tis a…wait, how do thou knowest where I am?”

“Our sister is following you to a small extent,” Luna admitted freely. “Thou art a product of a very different age, same as Us, except We are not travelling from town to town. We believe the phrase is ‘better safe than sorry.’ So, why art thou in jail this time?”

“I got drunk and started a brawl in the saloon.” Barrier groaned as Luna started to grin. “That aside,” the stallion tried to cut the subject off as quick as he could, “could thou checkest in on a thestral here in Appleloosa? He…er, she, seemed a little upset earlier today. Maybe offer her a spot in the guard? She hath potential. Forsoothly, she remindeth me of mineself when I first joined.”

Luna raised an eyebrow in surprise. “A pony recommended by thee? A thestral no less.” Luna smiled. “We shall see, but before that,” Luna’s grin returned in full force, “how didst this brawl start? Didst thou drunkenly proclaim that thou would swive with somepony’s dam?”

Barrier blushed and scuffed the ground, muttering softly. “A stallion tried 'a-picking me up'.”

Luna’s ears twitched, the low tone doing nothing to deter her hearing as her grin threatened to split her face.

“Because I… ran through poison joke yesterday…”

Luna’s muzzle finally failed her, giving away to a burst of giggles; Barrier could feel his image drifting to that of his real-world counterpart within the dreamscape.

“Just great,” the now-mare huffed with a much more feminine voice. “Anyways, can thou maybe seest about a-getting her a place in the guard?”

Luna struggled to stop the waves of laughter, “Didst, didst thou…” the mare heaved for air, “didst thou wish to embrace thy feminine side once more?”

“Oh for Zacherle’s sake…” Barrier resigned himself to waiting for the Lunar Diarch to collect herself.

Five long minutes later…

Luna, mostly having regained herself, finally stood upright, still grinning with the occasional twitch of contained amusement. “Dost thou require a stallion to sate thine urges?” Luna’s body shifted, filling out with more defined muscle and gaining an additional organ. “We would be more than willing to provide for thee…” the mare-turned-stallion finished with a sultry gaze.

“Can thou dost me the favor or not?” Barrier asked, mentally swearing as she fought to keep her tail from flagging. “And for the love of all under Faust, can you put that monstrosity away?!” She thrust a hoof vaguely at Princess Luna’s newest addition.

“Oh come now, Barrier, there’s nothing wrong with having some merriment. We must entertain ourselves somehow, since thou art not currently here to…” the alicorn licked his lips, “sate our free time.”

“Princess, I’m just tired.” Barrier shifted onto his haunches to definitively stop his traitorous tail. “Canest thou please just do me this favor an-” Barrier winced as a sudden wave of lightheadedness took him over.

“Ah, it appeareth thou art waking up.” Luna smiled warmly all of a sudden, “We shall see what we can do, Captain. We shall prepare an antidote for thine ailment…” her manure-eating grin returned almost immediately. “But thou wilt have to a-come hither to Canterlot to fetch it.”

Shit.

***

Barrier groaned at the sound of the cell door opening, letting the afternoon light filter in. How long was I out? It had been morning when she’d fallen asleep.

“Come on,” Cobalt grunted, nosing the door further open. “You’re staying in here until you sober up.”

“Cmmon…” a voice slurred drunkenly from Cobalt’s back. “I jus beatted up a tiger. You shuld at least…” the mare heaved, causing Cobalt to quickly whip the cell-door open and toss the pegasus inside. “least gimme a pillo…oh hey Barrier,” Daring grinned dumbly. “I musta drunk wayyyy...” the mare hiccupped, “...more than I thought.” The pegasus grinned a lascivious smile. “You look like a really perty mare…” Daring made to stumble forward, her front legs immediately sending her tumbling forward with a grunt, followed by a snore.

“So should I ask what she’s in for?” Barrier glanced at Cobalt, who was quickly scribbling something down at the desk.

“Public intoxication,” Cobalt commented idly. “I should probably see if throwing up on an officer counts as assault too, but before that I need a shower…and some mouthwash.” Cobalt Lancer shivered. “Crazy bitch thought I was a stallion and stuck her tongue down my throat right before she threw up again.”

“You have my condolences.” Despite the sympathetic tone, Barrier wore a smile.

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